National Parks & Lodges of the Old West

National Parks & Lodges of the Old West

Inspiration, a connection to the past, and nature’s beauty are the gifts of this 10-day American expedition. Accompanied by an expert Orbridge Expedition Leader, trace the historic paths and natural splendors of the Old West. See and learn about the storied sights and monuments of Badlands National Park, Custer State Park, Spearfish Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Teton National Park. Witness bison herds, savor a chuck wagon cook-out, see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial, visit a wooly mammoth dig site, and, at the volcanically active caldera of Yellowstone, observe otherworldly geothermal sites. Wonderfully atmospheric hotels and lodges are a highlight of this program, including landmark lodging within the parks themselves. Traveling comfortably in a private motor coach, there is no better way to see our national parks.

Trip Itinerary:

July 9 Arrive in Rapid City, SD

Welcome to Rapid City—nicknamed The City of Presidents. Transfer to the hotel to meet your fellow travel companions and Orbridge Expedition Leader for a welcome dinner and briefing.

Rapid City's location at the eastern slope of the Black Hills Mountain Range gives visitors easy access to all the surrounding attractions—from the beautiful state and national parks, to the man-made wonders like Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial. Take a stroll around beautiful downtown to spot just some of the 43 life-sized U.S. presidential bronze statues that reside on nearly every street corner.
Overnight: Hotel Alex Johnson (D)

July 10 Rapid City / Badlands National Park / Custer State Park

Following breakfast, head to Badlands National Park, with more than 244,000 acres of mixed-grass prairie featuring some of the most spectacular scenery and diverse wildlife in the region. Gaze in awe at the layered rock cliffs, towering spires, and narrow canyons that create this amazing landscape. An afternoon safari drive through the Custer State Park reserve takes you to magnificent vistas where herds of bison, elk, bighorn sheep, and other wildlife can be observed along the scenic roads. Beware of the "begging burros" who approach visitors looking for a handout! Later, experience a traditional chuck wagon cookout.

For the next two evenings, stay at Custer State Game Lodge, which offers guests a relaxing, nature-filled experience, combined with stunning views and outstanding service. Built in 1920, this impressive stone and wood lodge surrounded by stately trees is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The lodge served as the "Summer White House" for President Calvin Coolidge in 1927, who saw it as a quiet retreat from the heat, bugs, and crowds of Washington, DC. President Dwight D. Eisenhower also visited the lodge in 1953, while on a visit to the Black Hills area
Overnight: Custer State Game Lodge (B,D)

July 11 Custer State Park / Hot Springs

This morning, travel to Hot Springs to visit the world’s largest mammoth dig site. Founded in 1974 after the first remains were unearthed, it's now a fully-developed paleontological site and museum, with the remains of more than 61 mammoths.

After a short tour, stroll the boardwalk over the dig area and see the paleontology laboratory.

Continue to Crazy Horse Memorial—still a work in progress—located in the heart of the Black Hills. Under construction since 1948, when completed it may become the world’s largest sculpture. Experience an audio-visual program featuring sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski's life and work, the Crazy Horse project, and the culture, tradition, and living heritage of Native Americans. Visit the base of Crazy Horse Memorial and enjoy free time to explore on your own.
Overnight: Custer State Game Lodge (B,D)

July 12 Custer State Park / Mount Rushmore

Today visit one of the world’s largest iconic stone monuments—Mount Rushmore. Begun in 1927, this remarkable granite sculpture was originally designed to portray the four Presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt, from the waist up, but construction ended in 1941 due to budgetary constraints. The stone visages that remain, however, are awe-inspiring in both their beauty and the dedication it took to create them.

During free time, perhaps explore the Visitor's Center or Sculptor's Studio, or take the 422-stair Presidential Hike Trail, allowing you an up-close perspective of the sculpture and a chance to spot local wildlife.

Later today, retreat to your accommodations, deep in the heart of one of the most breathtakingly beautiful canyons in the world. Enjoy leisure time at the lodge for a walk or hike before rejoining the group for dinner.
Overnight: Spearfish Canyon Lodge (B,D)

July 13 Clearmont, WY / Cody

Journey through impressive Spearfish Canyon and across the grassy plains of Wyoming to Clearmont where you'll delight in leisure time and lunch at Ranch at Ucross—an authentic Western ranch. Afterward, board the motor coach, sit back, relax, and admire the spectacular scenery of the Bighorn Mountains and Shell Creek Canyon as you travel to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West town of Cody. Originally founded in the 1890's by the famous man himself, the town now boasts a population of more than 10,000 residents who live and work in the surrounding area.
Overnight: Holiday Inn Cody-At Buffalo Bill Village (B,L)

July 14 Cody / Yellowstone National Park

Visit the Buffalo Bill Center of the West for a step into the region's rich past, including Western and Native American history, the life of W.F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Yellowstone, and old firearms.

Continuing on, pass through Shoshone National Forest to Yellowstone National Park, established in 1872 as the world’s first national park. See the Park's Upper and Lower Falls, and take time to spot for wildlife in Hayden Valley. Watch in awe as Old Faithful Geyser erupts as high as 184 feet.
Overnight: Yellowstone Lodging (B,D)

July 15 Yellowstone National Park

Enjoy a full day exploring Yellowstone, including its active caldera.

A stop at the Fountain Paint Pot Nature Trail is an opportunity to witness all four types of geothermal features found throughout the world, including bubbling mud pots.

At Mammoth Hot Springs admire how the steamy limestone terraces and hot springs overlook the visitor facilities. Perhaps visit the Albright Visitor Center and Museum, with its interactive displays, orientation area, and educational ranger talks.
Overnight: Yellowstone Lodging (B,D)

July 16 Yellowstone National Park / Grand Teton National Park

Head south this morning through vast unspoiled wilderness to Grand Teton National Park—its jagged mountain peaks form a perfect backdrop behind Jenny and Jackson Lakes. The Tetons—the highest at more than 13,700 feet—are the youngest of the Rocky Mountains, but still inspire visitors from all over the world with their majestic beauty.

This evening, join a farewell dinner hosted by your Orbridge Expedition Leader to celebrate the grand adventures from your trip.
Overnight: Jackson Lake Lodge (B,D)

July 17 Grand Teton National Park / Jackson / Depart Jackson

After breakfast, guests departing during the suggested times take a complimentary transfer to the airport for flights home. (B)


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